High Performance Bass at Prices that Most Can Afford

The secret to Serie T through the years

Original T-Series 2007–2010: 

It was 2006 when we started designing what became known as the T-Series. We had just launched the first R-Series to critical and commercial acclaim with crisp modern styling and we wanted something REL had never had before; a coherent range of affordable, attractive subwoofers that applied our modern aesthetic to deliver far higher output for lower cost than any prior REL and we did so in a 3 model lineup that permitted optimizing subwoofer-to-loudspeaker matching. It worked so well that we still use this small/medium/large stepping-stone template in our lines today, and it works just as well today as it did then.

What was this winning formula and what remains throughout the several iterations of T (we’re now on our 4th generation with the Tx range) that form our base of customers?

 I think at its root, T is successful for {a few) reasons.

  1. It defines affordable excellence. There are plenty of subs at price points close to ours, some of them good. But none of them works so hard to deliver every last part of the sound and frankly ownership experience that T does.
  2. They’re fast, easy to setup and tune.
  3. They extend remarkably deep into the low bass for units so pleasant in form and size as they rarely exceed one cubic foot by very much.
  4. The larger ones play damned loud, while offering true High Level Connectivity, just like our mid-size and reference subwoofers.
  5. They go the extra mile, because we sweat little details for the eye to linger over, like frame design and quality finishes.
  6. They’re incredibly reliable workhorses. We’ve delivered over 250,000 of these in the past 15 years and here in the US, we still only see less than 10 a year of the original 15 year old units. That’s simply incredible.

I once said to Bill Lowe of Audioquest, “It’s not a car unless it makes you turn and look at it one last time as you walk away.”  He laughed because, like me, he’s a car guy and he knew exactly what I meant. Mostly he owns a fleet of Mercedes SUVs, the GLS – those big road panzers that gobble up hundreds of miles of highway travel with ease. Has to, he works hard and drives to his dealers, sometimes showing up out of the blue. 

What I meant is that any automobile/truck/whatever that you love ( and understand it has a soul) will tug at your heartstrings. It forces you to turn around to admire its lines and details as you leave it behind. That’s what I try to achieve with RELs. I’ve said to training classes, and meant it, I want for our customers, their REL to be, quite possibly, the most beautiful thing in their house, or at least in their living room. I want them turning one last time as they turn off the lights at night, to cast a last affectionate gaze at their REL before the lights dim. And I mean this for T owners just as much as I do for owners of a REL Line Array (affectionately known as a 6-pack).

T Series, the second generation: 2010-2014

This introduced the basic themes still in practice today. High gloss paint executed at a level that would piss off Porsche if they saw how well we lay on paint at $699. Sturdy Class A/B amps, updated in several important ways from the first generation, bigger power supplies and upgraded drivers and little details that all mattered either for performance or for overall betterment of the designs.

These, too, sold like crazy. Customers loved the simple, geometric no-nonsense styling, the beautiful 5 coat lacquered finishes that took a week to spray/sand/wipe down with alcohol to strip off all impurities; then repeat, repeat, repeat, and repeat. Finally polished using a special method I personally evolved to get rid of streaks and fogging. I used to detail high end cars and I hate (with a passion few can understand) mediocre paint, which ALWAYS starts with lazy surface preparation.

I designed bead-blasted aluminum feet machined from solid billets of aluminum and badges of the same. Competitors use cheap rubber feet or those that don’t, spray cheap silver paint onto plastic. Complete Crap that made me gag. Alex Brody, our CEO at REL gagged when he saw how much my beautiful solid aluminum feet cost. Then he looked at them on a development cabinet and heard how they sounded with that grounded connection to the floor and we never talked about the cost of those feet again. That’s one of the many very cool things about how we run REL. Most CEO’s responsible for delivering a bottom line don’t get it. But all get it here at REL. We get that we have to be making something special to matter. It’s in our DNA. We do stuff that would never make it out of a boardroom at most companies. Here, if it’s not special, it never makes it to the boardroom. And that’s just the start of what makes REL cool and special and lets me go tilt at windmills again every day I walk into work.

Serie T/i: Third Generation 2015 – 2021

By now we needed a way to help customers and salespeople alike delineate between the “old” T Series and the new 3rd generation. Hence the inversion to the very French use of Serie and its correct placement in front of the “T”.  More aluminium; thicker, heavier, better-damped to deal with the louder, deeper bass from the slightly larger, better proportioned and quieter cabinets. 

We had begun working with my friend Eric during driver development. Eric is a savant, a genius of sorts when it comes to driver development. I can speak in shorthand to him, two weeks later, a new driver sample shows up. It’s far better, but still too soft, not enough definition. I explain in technical terms what I’m hearing. Three weeks later, a new sample arrives. Ahh, so much better. We work like this for 2 years, developing better versions of Reference drivers like the big 15” MOAB that found its way into our No.25. A little rubs off on the T/i.

T/i was an inflection point in the evolution of T. MORE and better. More better. The drivers were faster and much better controlled by the time we finished development, the amps had settled into being technically perfect, meaning they worked brilliantly every time we touched them. By now, Justin Magana, our Chief Engineer, really had a handle on the subtleties of tuning the gain and limiting functions. We gained more and limited less, which made me happy beyond belief- happy John, happy customers.

Serie T/x: 2021

T/x is easily the biggest jump in performance we have ever executed since the inception of the T concept. I went into this project wondering if we would have to abandon the Class A/B amplifiers that had treated us so wonderfully for over 15 years. What was I going to drag out of this design I hadn’t already wrung out? 

Sometimes, rarely, it’s wonderful to be wrong. It started with my unwillingness to abandon these fantastic Class A/B amps we had developed over 15 years. But the new Class D amps used in our HT offered much more power and were really fast. Should we go Class D? It was the obvious choice. But then, looking back over the hundreds of thousands of units we’d built with almost no failures to speak of, and I made the call to stick with what works. Man am I glad I did. Because we were working on a top-secret project or two and I applied our learnings from the development of the drivers for our much larger and much much more expensive subwoofers directly to what became the T/x drivers. Wow! Stiffer, more reactive, faster and quieter were just a few of the adjectives we used to describe what we were hearing. Then Justin pulled magic out of his limiters and presto we had stronger output than ever before. 

And what mandated all this were new cabinet forms based on lessons learnt directly from our big Reference cabinets. They look so different, yet in one important respect they are almost identical mathematically. This change (sorry, this secret I have to hold back) makes such a difference to the back wave inside the cabinet that it profoundly changed for the better, what we could extract from Serie T/x.

And so this magical journey continues and gathers steam. Of giving normal people, ones who can’t afford our best, the biggest serving of Reference we can dream up on the tightest budgets we can allow. I love this line, Serie T. Through the years it’s brought so many so much joy, and at prices we are very proud of. Pricing matters when you’re trying to raise two kids in today’s world. It matters when you’re just a few years from retirement trying to figure out how to downsize your life and not give up one of the greatest joys in your life. It matters. Serie T, in all its various forms, matters. To a lot of people, any number of whom are now our friends as well as our customers.

March 28, 2022 - Posted in: Reconsider